The state began accepting applications Friday from those wishing to grow and sell marijuana for medical use, but when the drug might make into the hands of patients is still anyone’s guess.
That will depend on how many apply for a limited number of licenses.
The only piece of the timeline set for the birth of this new industry is Sept. 18. By 4:30 p.m. that day, all dispensary and cultivation applications must be hand-delivered to the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Division in Little Rock. Only then will the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission begin reviewing the applications.
“There’s been a good deal of interest from entrepreneurs and others who might be looking to start a business,” said Jake Bleed, a spokesman for the state Department of Finance & Administration. “That’s based on phone calls we’ve received and the typically strong public attendance at meetings of the commission. Whether that translates into a large number of applications for licenses remains to be seen.”
Among those interested entrepreneurs is Glenn Ellis, owner of Delta Liquors in Blytheville. “Arkansas has an opportunity to be the first at something here in the Bible Belt and to set an example for how best it can be done,” he said.
He plans to seek a license to open a dispensary and expects a long wait for it.
What happens after the September deadline is uncertain, Bleed said. The commission hasn’t scheduled its next meeting, but it will eventually circle back to rules for ancillary businesses like transporters, distributors and processors.
A deadline will not be set for the commission to award licenses, he said. Thirty-two are available for dispensaries, five for cultivation facilities. The commission set those limits, though the constitutional amendment approved by voters in November allows up to 40 licenses for dispensaries and up